Ear plugs are designed to be inserted in the ear canal and are used to help protect your ears from the effects of noise. Although ear plugs help protect your ears they are not to be used as an alternative to controlling noise. They must fit properly and worn correctly for them to effectively do the job of protecting your ears and reducing the noise level. Under the control of noise at work regulation all employers must provide suitable hearing protection to employees where noise exceeds 80 dB (A).
The SNR value is a European standard, the higher the SNR, the higher the level of noise attenuation provided by the earplugs. Remember that the SNR value is a guide only. Independent laboratories test earplugs to determine their SNR value. The SNR value can be used to compare the level of noise attenuation offered by different hearing protectors.
There are many different types of ear plugs available and the type you choose depends on your personal needs.
Type of Ear plugs
- Disposable ear plugs are normally made from expandable, slow recovery foam. They combine protection as well as comfort. They are designed to be thrown away after a single use and are available as individual earplugs or as a corded pair. To get the best results, slowly roll and compress into a thin cylinder. While the ear plug is compressed, insert into the ear canal.
- Reusable ear plugs are made from a flexible material that is perforated to fit the ear. These type of earplugs are comfortable to wear and hygienic. To use reusable earplugs, reach around the back of your head and pull the ear outwards. Insert the earplug until you feel it sealing. Replace the reusable earplugs when they harden, shrink or tear. Keep them clean by washing in warm soapy water, rinse and allow to dry fully before you use them again.
- Banded ear plugs are an easy to use plug for intermittent use. The ear plugs can be removed quickly and hang around your neck for keeping them safe. How to use banded earplugs: Easy to insert by holding the large ends of the pods, swivel them to direct into the ear. Push and wiggle if needed until you have a comfortable fit and seal. Replace the banded ear plugs when they harden, shrink or the band breaks. Keep them clean by washing in warm soapy water, rinse and allow to dry fully before you use them again.
When to use ear plugs
The general rule is to wear ear protection to reduce noise that can damage your ears or where a noise causes you problems. Do not use ear plugs to completely block all noise for health and safety reasons as you may not hear alarms or instructions.